The Lilla Jewel Award – named in honor of artist, feminist, and suffragist Lilla Jewel – was created nearly 25 years ago to support and amplify Oregon-based artists of marginalized genders who use their art as a tool for activism and advance social justice messages.
The Lilla Jewel Award Committee and Seeding Justice is excited to announce our 2023 Lilla Jewel Awardees:
Zoë Gamell Brown is a queer, first-generation Boviander Guyanese American integrative artist, educator, and storyteller based in Kalapuya Ilihi. Her work explores multiplicity within Guyanese relationality, extending from South American shores to the Caribbean Sea and Gulf Coast through ancestral practices, ceramic sculptures, culinary catharsis, creative nonfiction, experimental video, photopoetry, restorative cartography, and sonic arts.
Brown is a doctoral student in the University of Oregon Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies’ inaugural cohort and a recipient of the New Media and Culture Certificate. Her research explores the shoals where race and Indigeneity meet within Boviander ecologies, using critical autotheory to practice creative, culinary, microbial, and spiritual care. In 2020, she founded Fernland Studios to reimagine environmentalism through artist residencies, educational retreats, and writing workshops with Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
Learn more at zoegamell.com
Akela Jaffi is a multidisciplinary artist working in Portland Oregon. Training since the age of 14, dance is the craft in which she feels most at home. Movement is her method of connecting with spirit, as well as her ritual for archiving the comings and goings of life. A graduate of Jefferson High School, she is incredibly grateful to the teachers who invested their time and attention into her practice. Akela is the creator or BASS, an artists showcase focused on uplifting black performers of all mediums. BASS intends to provide competitive performance opportunities and artist development built on community and collaboration. Akela works to inspire younger generations of blackness through her production work, and intends on creating for the studio, stage and screen for the rest of her life.
Learn more at akelajaffi.com
Roux Haile is a transdisciplinary artist: I see my practices as a natural byproduct of my daily survival as well as my passions; identity and creativity as elements which constantly inform eachother, resistant to compartmentalization that white supremacy encourages. Dance and circus work centers my physical disability and Black identity creating liminal space where assistive devices, Afro-centric movement and the Black Queer erotic coalesce. Because African body modification is often vilified and warped by colonialism, anti-Blackness and anti-indigeneity: my tattoo work is based in a desire to re-sanctify the relationship between client and artist. I am moving away from the detached, capitalistic relationship fostered by American Traditional tattooing, seeking to elevate and center Black bodily autonomy and determination. My social practice as director and co-founder of Ori Gallery is birthed out of the necessity for arts spaces that do not cater to the dominant hegemony and center the creative contributions of my communities. The fluidity and interconnectivity of my work is a constant source of inspiration and joy as it is a direct affront to the isolation imposed by supremacy culture.
Learn more at leilahaile.com
Vaughn Kimmons also known as Cosmos Dark, is a multidisciplinary artist who celebrates Blackness as the cosmic source of sacred inspiration and gives voice to the connective power of shared human nuance. Through movement, voice, music composition, video and collage she explores the concept of authenticity and its influence on human spiritual and emotional development. She believes freedom and balance exist in the realm of truly being one’s self. Her work seeks to unpack the issues that challenge self-actualization within Black communities, examining historical and current contexts that have stifled and transformed our identities. Within every lyric, every movement of expression, every visual narrative she creates, lives a glimpse into the bizarre and absurd. It’s a realm that encourages us to consider and develop new perspectives.
Learn more at vkimmons.wixsite.com/portfolio